For Your Weekend Reading Guidance

By James Fallows

1) Pacific Standard magazine, based in Santa Barbara, has an excellent new issue out. You can read it in print if you subscribe, at the link above -- or you can wait as the articles come from behind the paywall over the next couple of weeks. (Everyone in our business is experimenting with web-revenue schemes*; this is an interesting one.)

For the record, Pacific Standard is edited by Maria Streshinsky, formerly managing editor here at the Atlantic, and many of the articles are by people in the Atlantic or Washington Monthly force-fields. But even if I didn't know anyone involved, I would have read this cover to cover, and enjoyed it. You can do that too if you subscribe.

2) The New York Review of Books is out with its 50th anniversary issue. Year in and year out, through now an impressive series of decades, the NYRB has sustained an amazingly high level of quality and sophistication. (Minor disclosure: I wrote frequently for the magazine in the 1980s and 1990s, back before the advent of online journalism eliminated the concept of "free time.")  This issue is also full of great articles, many of them behind a paywall that is lifted if you subscribe.

Congratulations to Robert Silvers and his colleagues on what they have created and maintained over the years.

3) The Atlantic's new issue is also on the newsstands and should be in subscribers' hands.

Most other people at the magazine naturally see all its components as they are coming together in the weeks before each issue's "ship" deadline. My practice has long been to wait and see the whole thing when it arrives in the mail. That way I know little or nothing about the back story of each issue -- which stories worked out easily, which were author-handling (or fact-checking) nightmares, which tradeoffs we made in mix and emphasis. I just see the results, as a reader would. And on that basis I think this month's is very strong, in its range and quality.

Obviously I knew all about the cover essay, which I wrote -- and which I had a lot of fun doing the interviews for. But I hadn't even realized that among our list of current-day tech innovators celebrated by their peers was Jack Dangermond, a longtime home-town friend and the founder of the Esri company that is (with Marketplace) our partner in our current American Futures project.  One of many positive surprises on opening this issue. Check it out and ... subscribe


* As I argued several years ago in this piece, most veterans of the tech world think that "will people pay for information on the web?" is not even an interesting question. Of course they will, as we pay for everything else, once a sensible and unobtrusive pricing and payment system evolves. Every experiment with pricing and paywalls, whether it succeeds or fails, takes us closer to discovering the right iTunes-like, EZPass-like, cable-TV-like payment system. In the meantime, just pony up! None of these involves that much money.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/10/for-your-weekend-reading-guidance/280884/